Animal Lovers Celebrate Their Furry Friends during National Pet Month

Scots are known for being softies when it comes to their pets. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, over 40 percent of Scottish households- that’s about 96 million- own an animal, whether it’s a dog, cat, horse, bird, rabbit or fish. And with the May Bank Holiday coinciding with National Pet Month, Obanites are encouraged to include their pets in outdoor activities. In its 25th year, National Pet Month is a UK-wide celebration which aims to promote responsible pet ownership, share the benefits pets and people can bring to each other, raise awareness of the services available from pet professionals and celebrate the contribution of working companion animals.

“The whole focus and theme for this year’s campaign is Celebrating Our Pets and we hope as many pet fans as possible will join us in celebrating the wonderful impact pets have on our lives,” says NPM chairman Phil Sketchley.

Pet owner Karen Lindsay, an assessor, was taking advantage of the good weather this week to walk her dogs, Ruadh and Sarach around her neighbourhood in Lerags. “They turn each walk into fun and adventure,” she shares. Also the proud owner of a fluffy tiger cat named Noel, Karen admits, “My pets fill me with joy. They are always happy to see me and never judge me or give me a hard time-unless they want fed!”

Dogs are by far the most popular pet in Scotland, and they and their human friends are expected to take to the trails over the holiday at local Forestry Commission recreation areas. “Dog walkers are one of our most popular and regular forest users, with most of the forests around Oban providing a good selection of trails to suit all levels of dog walker,” says Jo MacLean, dog owner and Communities, Recreation and Tourism Ranger with Forestry Commission Scotland. “Sutherlands Grove, Beinn Lora and Fearnoch offer a mixture of waymarked trails. Beinn Lora’s uphill trails are great for dogs and walkers wanting a challenging hike, while Fearnoch offers longer woodland walks. Sutherlands Grove has a good mixture of trails for people wanting long walks or short shaded walks to let dogs stretch their legs on passing long journeys.”

“We welcome all dogs to the forests and ask they are kept within sight and under control in areas such as the Beaver Trail in Knapdale or when passing work sites,” Jo says. “It makes the visitor experience valuable to all users if dog owners clear up after their dogs. We ask them to bag waste and take it out of the forest to help keep feet clean. If a situation arises without poo bags, then use a stick to flick it into the forest undergrowth to keep the trails clear.”

Tristan Carré, veterinary surgeon at Oban Veterinary Centre, was enjoying time with his family and two dogs at a local playpark this week. “Getting a pet, albeit a responsibility, will bring years of joy, relaxation and happiness to a family,” he shares.

Supporters can follow National Pet Month, which runs April 1-May 5, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalPetMonth and on Twitter @NatPetMonthUK plus sister pages Scratching Post for cat lovers www.facebook.com/JoinScratchingPost and Park Bench for dog lovers www.facebook.com/JoinParkBench.

National Pet Month’s Top 10 Tips for responsible pet ownership

  1. Think carefully before getting a pet and learn about its special requirements.

  2. Ensure your pet is sociable and well trained.

  3. Provide a nutritious and well balanced diet.

  4. Provide suitable housing and bedding.

  5. Clean up after your pet and worm it regularly.

  6. Protect against disease-your vet can provide you with advice.

  7. Prevent unwanted litters and neuter your pet when appropriate.

  8. Groom your pet regularly.

  9. Control your pet and ensure it is properly identified.

  10. Take out pet insurance for dogs, cats, rabbits and horses to cover against unexpected vet fees and third party liability.

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